PCL’s Ottawa operations have an internal Health and Wellness committee dedicated to realizing its mission statement: The promotion of health, wellness and a balanced lifestyle within ourselves, our families, and our coworkers. PCL employees know that if you eat well you not only improve your health, but you feel better and look better. When your body is working the way it is supposed to you are able to think clearly and can focus your energy productively. How did PCL’s employees in Ottawa encourage healthy eating and wellness at work? They grew a garden.
The produce from the employee garden at PCL’s
Ottawa operations office.
Employees enjoying the camaraderie of working
in the garden.
THE BEST-LOOKING PARKING LOT AROUND
Recognizing that it can be challenging to maintain a healthy diet at work, PCL employees in Ottawa decided to promote healthy eating by growing and sharing a fruit and vegetable garden—right at the office! The entire south and west sides of the PCL building have been edged with a myriad of fruits and vegetables, just waiting to be picked and eaten when they become ripe. The selection of fresh food changes every year, but some favorites such as cucumbers, green beans, tomatoes, hot peppers, berries, and fresh herbs make repeat appearances. Each year the staff experiments; the 2013 season included growing plants not typically grown in the Ottawa region such as peanuts, eggplants, and tomatillos.
Randa McTavish, a marketing coordinator at PCL’s Ottawa office, is an avid participant in the garden. An enthusiastic gardener at home, she loves that PCL supports having a garden in the work setting.
“It is so impressive to me that we can grow a garden here at work, where we can share the excitement of planting, growing, and sharing food,” said McTavish. “We enjoy the spoils of the garden both in the office with our peers and at home with our families.”
TEAMBUILDING WITH A HEALTHY FOCUS
The “gardening bug” started at PCL’s Ottawa office when employees wanted to grow a vegetable garden with the aim of team building with a healthy focus. In the beginning, a team of volunteers cultivated a 100 sq. ft. plot of land directly behind the office building with tomatoes, lettuce, and peppers. The approach to the garden has evolved over the years, from team challenges and group participation to individuals pitching in when they have a few moments. Now in its fifth year, the garden has expanded to about 1,000 sq. ft., runs along two sides of the building, and holds over twenty-five different kinds of fruits and vegetables.
“The camaraderie that’s generated from conversations beside the garden beds, or the buzz that’s created when a big bowlful of ripe, juicy tomatoes hits the lunchroom, is just fantastic,” said McTavish. “I’m so proud to work for a company that champions this kind of work-life balance.”